Recent patent images suggest Kawasaki is developing a slingshot competitor that leans in when cornering.
According to the patent application published by the European Patent Office, Kawasaki is working on a unique open-air three-wheeler with a leaning mechanism for changing directions. The patent was filed in Japan on 22nd November 2018 and here is everything you need to know!
The Patent Info
Just like the three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot, the Kawasaki three-wheeler seats two people side-by-side and comes with a steering wheel. However, Unlike the Polaris, the three-wheeler in the patent can tilt inwards into the turning direction. On top of this, unlike other three-wheelers (Yamaha Niken and Tricity or Piaggio‘s MP3); when turning, only the vehicle’s body and the rear wheel lean while the two front wheels remain vertical. The purpose of leaning is to counteract the centrifugal force of a turn that would normally push the driver away from the cornering side. The applicant says; by using leaning as the turning mechanism, it makes it “possible to realize a favourable driving feeling similar to that of a motorcycle or the like.”
Leaning Mechanism, Suspension and Engine
Looking at the patent, the vehicle includes two front wheels that can turn and remain verticle just like cars. Steering knuckles mounted to the front wheels rotate about the steering shaft which initiates leaning and direction of travel. As for the rear, the round motorcycle tire accommodates leaning. In the case of the suspension; telescopic twin-tube forks at the front attached to the upper arm and lower arm take care of the business. On top of this, the struts keep the chassis from rolling too much and it appears to be adjustable.
As for the engine, unlike the slingshot, the engine is at the back; behind the driver’s seat. On top of this, aside from a traditional combustion engine; the patent says an electric motor or hybrid system with chain final drive could power the vehicle.
It’s interesting to see Kawasaki trying to merge a bike and car to come up with something that’s unique. However, we are not sure if the three-wheeler would ever come to life or go into production since this patent mainly focuses on the front end and the leaning mechanism.